Passing the Buck … one week ’till Christmas

Do you remember the “Flip Wilson Show?”

From 1970 to 1974 Wilson was the host for a weekly television spot where he introduced the viewers to a recurring character named Geraldine Jones.  By putting on a dress, along with some carefully crafted padding, then altering his voice to a higher pitch, Wilson also introduced the character’s favorite phrase, “The Devil made me do it!”

The skit was hysterically funny, winning great fan approval.  I mean really, it’s not my fault right?  I had to do it… the devil made me do it!

Not such an original thought, funny though it may be.  This phrase leaps off the pages of an ancient text in a way that draws us all to Christmas. Yes, to Christmas!

If we go all the way back to the Beginning (Genesis) we’ll see the story where God asked Adam why he ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil.  Adam’s response?  That woman you gave me, she…

So God asks Eve, and she responds… Hey it wasn’t my fault, it was that snake who said we wouldn’t really die!

Why didn’t God just give up on the human creatures right then and there, and start again somewhere else in the universe?

They were naked and knew it, trying on their own to cover their nakedness and their disobedient unbelief in God’s word, blaming each other and other creatures for their own miserable choices.

In that moment they were lost, and far removed from the relationship with God they once knew.

But God…

Don’t you just love those words?

But God didn’t want to kill them; instead, he had a plan to use this first couple to bless the whole world.  So God killed one of His other creatures to make garments for the first couple. [Genesis 3:21]

This event is directly tied to Matthew 1:18-25.  God told Joseph about the plan to bring a child into the world through Mary.  Specifically God told Joseph to name this child “Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”  But why?

John 3:16
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

Here’s the thing.

Adam and Eve knew they were lost, and suffered the consequences of their choices, after making all their excuses to God.

The birth of Jesus now provides for all mankind an opportunity to come back to God.

  • Regardless of how far we’ve strayed.
  • No matter the things we’ve done, or failed to do.
  • In spite of who we blame for our choices, including the devil himself.

We all now have an invitation to come back to God, through Jesus, the Savior of the world …  Immanuel, God with us.

John 1:12
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.

John 14:6
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

Acts 4:12
And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.

The truth is the devil can’t make you do anything… including reject God’s love through Jesus.  It is your choice alone.

The truth is God won’t MAKE YOU BELIEVE in His Son Jesus… He invites but you must choose to say yes to Him.

Don’t pass the buck anymore… say “yes” to Jesus and His grace and forgiveness today.

One-Way Ticket

road

They say that once you’ve left, you can’t go back.  They say that once you’ve said it, you can’t un-say it.  They say once you’ve done it, you can’t un-do it.  They say … well, you see where I’m going with this.

I don’t pretend to be a philosophical giant. The mind games of philosophy are writhe with every nuance of possibilities not known or seen, and I simply can’t compete at that level.  I’m more a meat-and-potatoes kind of philosopher.  One who accepts that there are indeed things I cannot know or see, yet I can KNOW the ONE who sees and knows all things.

There are those who want to convince us that when it’s over, it’s just over.  That life will never be anything more than what it is today.  They say you can’t go back, and there’s nothing after this, so today, right now is the most important moment you live.  This ticket really leads to hedonism.  Since most after-life philosophies are tied directly or indirectly to moral consequences of our actions in this life, if there’s nothing after this, morality and social mores go out the window, and everyone is entitled to do whatever they want.

Every religion and philosophical system in the world has some merits of goodness in them I suppose, some type of morality, or social or cultural focus, that causes men and women to become consumed by its teachings.  However, this ticket to the afterlife has no guarantees, because most of these systems are based in what you “do.”  Meaning if you simply “do” enough of the right things, then when you cross over into the afterlife, some form of heaven or nirvana will be yours.  There is only one problem here.  How does a person ever really know if they have “done” enough to actually get there?

Christmas is more than just a season.  This holiday allows truth seekers another chance every year to hear and listen while the true story is told of the “One-Way Ticket.”  I realize that my personal philosophy and belief system is based in believing that the Bible is absolute truth.  That said, I would be remiss if I tried saying anything at all about the afterlife designed for humanity, if it contradicted what is written in God’s Word.

So here’s the simple truth (the meat-and-potatoes truth) of what’s in our future.

The One-Way Ticket: Baby

Isaiah 7:14
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.

Matthew 1:23
… which translated means, “GOD WITH US.”

Matthew 1:21
“She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

The One-Way Ticket: Man

John 14:6
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

Acts 4:12
“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

The One-Way Ticket: King

Revelation 22:20
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

It’s all there in six verses.  The way, the truth, and the life after this one, are all based on a one-way ticket, whose name is Jesus.

But don’t miss out on the real reason for His coming, as a baby, man, and King.

John 10:10
I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

This Christmas you may discover, if you commit to these simple truths, that this life right here and now can take on new meaning.  If your future is secure in Jesus Christ, then focus now on making this life all that Jesus designed for it to be.  Prove the hedonist and the workaholic religious fanatics wrong.  Enjoy the freedom that comes in knowing “God with us” and share His love in tangible ways that speak of God’s truth, and bring Him glory.

 

 

One-Way

 

What’s in a name?

Daily Post: Fragrance

roses

From Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, 1600:

JULIET:

‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.

One could argue, according to Juliet, that these beautiful roses I purchased last week would smell just as sweet if they were called Rosa delicti.  However, to use another worn out phrase, we should not be hasty here to judge a book by its cover.  You see, while these roses are beautiful in color, they have committed a heinous crime.  They have no smell at all.  They don’t smell like roses, or any other flower for that matter.  To my sensitive proboscis there is no fragrance, no odor, no nothing.  What a crime!  I remember well when roses smelled as sweet as the words Juliet used to describe them.

So wouldn’t it be more fitting to call these flowers “odorless rose”? But what’s in a name right?  Oh trust me, there is much in a name, and the power of names is nothing to sneeze at.  For example, if I suggest the name Adolph Hitler, what image comes to mind?  What world wide impact did the man have?  See, just the name Hitler weighs heavy with power unimaginable by most.

What if I suggest the name Winston Churchill? Passionate folks often quote Churchill in motivational speeches to convince people to become engaged in life.  Just a couple of examples:

“I would say to the House… ‘I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat’… Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.”

“Centuries ago words were written to be a call and a spur to the faithful servants of Truth and Justice: ‘Arm yourselves, and be ye men of valour, and be in readiness for the conflict; for it is better for us to perish in battle than to look upon the outrage of our nation and our altar.  As the will of God is in heaven, even so let it be.”

Reading these quotes you can almost smell the gritty fragrance of courage and conviction.  These were words which motivated men to engage for truth and justice once again.  So, what’s in a name?  Everything.  The name is the essence.

So, let’s talk about another name.  Folks react in a variety of ways when they hear this name.  Let me speak it now:  Jesus Christ the Lord.

To some the very sound of that name is a horrendous odor filling their nostrils with such fiercely pungent anger, that in their vain pride they shout this name in obscenity, cursing the heavens from whence He came.  To others the name is the consummate punchline, and laughing they equate the name with nothing more than popcorn eaten by thousands at entertainment venues around the globe, called churches.

But to us… to those reading these words who truly know Him, the name Jesus is sweeter than any other fragrance in the world.  One of the fragrances from my childhood that lingers even now, somewhere deep in my consciousness, is the smell of the little Baptist Church in Frankel City, Texas.  Located at the junction of Farm roads 181 and 1967, about 20 miles from Andrews, Texas.  What triggers this smell every time are the words to song written in the 1920’s, and sung often in this little church.

There have been names that I have loved to hear,
But never has there been a name so dear
To this heart of mine, as the name divine,
The precious, precious name of Jesus.

Jesus is the sweetest name I know,
And He’s just the same as His lovely name,
And that’s the reason why I love Him so;
Oh, Jesus is the sweetest name I know.

There is no name in earth or Heav’n above,
That we should give such honor and such love
As the blessèd name, let us all acclaim,
That wondrous, glorious name of Jesus.

And some day I shall see Him face to face
To thank and praise Him for His wondrous grace,
Which He gave to me, when He made me free,
The blessèd Son of God called Jesus.

What’s in a name?  Let me share the truth with you now…

In Acts chapter 4, Peter and John stood before the Elders who had them arrested, and boldly and confidently spoke these words:

Acts 4:12
“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

Later Paul would write to the church in Philippi these words:

Philippians 2:8-11
Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

What’s in a name?  Everything having to do with the hope of mankind, that’s all.

Believe this truth.  Act on this truth.  Let God’s will in heaven be done this day right here on earth… in your life.

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